This is the fifth episode demonstrating how we built Astrid’s amor from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. In the last episode, we primed and painted our armor with its final coats of color. In this episode, we’re demonstrating the four ways we attached straps to our armor and got it ready to wear to the convention.
Products & Materials
COSBOND PRODUCTS USED: Attach & Build, Reinforcer
Strapping is generally the final stage of cosplay, but it’s something that we had in mind all along while we were designing and building our armor pieces. We considered throughout the process how we would get this foam onto Elyse’s body in a way that was wearable, durable, and as comfortable as possible, since she’d be wearing this all day at the conventions we’re visiting. And depending on where each armor piece went, how it was shaped, and how it would react to Elyse moving and walking around, we needed to figure out a strapping technique that worked for each individual piece. In total, we used four strapping techniques in our Astrid cosplay. We also kept in mind that we’d have to repeat the strapping process for both knee pads, both leg guards, etc.
For this step in the process, we also brought in our second CosBond product of the build: Reinforcer. CosBond Reinforcer is a one-sided sheet that uses the same reliable adhesive as the CosBond Attach & Build we’ve been using throughout our armor build. That means it’s an easy peel-and-stick application with no glues, fumes, or drying time. However, instead of having adhesive and release paper on both sides, the side opposite the adhesive is backed by a black (or white, but we used black) synthetic material that is nearly indestructible. It can bend, it can hold weight, it can withstand friction and heat and cold with the ultimate level of durability. Reinforcer is designed to reinforce the bonds of other adhesives or attachments by covering seams, hingers, and straps with an extra layer of protection. In this tutorial, well show you exactly how to use Reinforcer to ensure that your straps won’t just last all day but as long as your cosplay does. In the end, we used Reinforcer with all four of the strapping method’s we’re showing in this tutorial.
So, let’s take a look at all of the ways we strapped Astrid’s armor for the convention. Technically, you could do these steps in any order, but this is how we did them. As with all of these tutorials, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how you might’ve done things differently or if you’ve used any other techniques you use to strap your armor. Let us know what you did by commenting below or posting on our social media pages.
STEP 1: Attaching Nylon Straps and Parachute Clips to Shoulder Pauldrons
For Astrid’s pauldrons/shoulder pieces, we used a technique that involved nylon and parachute clips. Nylon is a strong, woven material commonly used to make straps that don’t stretch but are flexible enough to allow for some movement, especially as you’re getting dressed in your armor. Parachute clips are a convenient option for strapping pieces that are difficult to get into because you can completely take your armor pieces apart and put them on one by one without any help, rather than trying to squeeze into everything at once or get someone to help you. Parachute clips can be painted and adjusted, too. Because Astrid’s pauldrons basically needed to “float” just below the shoulders of her chest piece, we decided this technique would give us the flexibility we needed while still looking cohesive.
- First, we cut out the length of nylon strap we needed in order to thread through the parachute clip and create a loop that would hold our pauldron the correct length away from the chest piece to fit Elyse. This just takes a little bit of trial and error, but you can hold up your nylon piece to your shoulder and eyeball the length pretty easily. Remembering that we would be threading the nylon through the clip and then folding it in half, we cut our strap.
- To keep the nylon’s woven edges from fraying, we burnt it just slightly using a regular lighter. All we had to do was wave the cut edge of the nylon back and forth a few times through the frame so that the edge would melt and harden with no flyaway threads.
- We used the strap we cut to trace out the amount of CosBond Attach & Build we would need to stick the two sides together. We threaded the slot in the parachute clip through the nylon, cut out our Attach & Build, and stuck it to one end of the nylon. Then we peeled the release paper and pressed down the other side of the nylon to make our loop. We repeated this for both sides of the parachute clip so that we had two loops with one side of the clip on each.
- Then we used more Attach & Build to stick these loops to the inside of our pauldron and our chest piece. Once we figured out where the straps needed to be positioned to hang correctly, we placed one side of the Attach & Build on each strap, peeled the release paper, and stuck one on the pauldron and the other on the chest piece so that they lined up perfectly.We then repeated this process for the other pauldron on the other side of the chest piece.
- Finally, with both sets of clips firmly attached, we wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t fall or tear off at any point during a convention, so we added a patch of CosBond Reinforcer to each pauldron. We simply cut out square patches of Reinforcer big enough to cover the end of the nylon straps each side, leaving at least an inch of extra space so that the Reinforcer could to stick to the foam. We peeled the release paper and stuck our patches down tight over the nylon. We wanted the patches to be mostly smooth, but since they were on the inside of a rounded foam piece, it wasn’t a big deal if there were some creases in the Reinforcer. This would guarantee that our shoulder straps would stick tight to our foam no matter what.
Step 2: Adding Zippers to Foam Leg Guards
For the leg guards that go around Astrid’s ankles and calves, we needed a strapping solution that would work with their vertical, cylindrical design without getting in the way of the scales and other details. We decided that inserting a zipper on the back of each leg guard would be the easiest way to allow the armor to lay flat and wrap all the way around the leg. While a zipper isn’t technically a “strap,” they’re a convenient method for fastening a cosplay to your body. With a zipper, we wouldn’t have to worry about needing help getting into the cosplay, and we wouldn’t have to deal with multiple straps going down the leg thanks to the vertical zipper. We also knew that as long as we were careful with our placement, our seams would line up every single time. While zippers might have you thinking of sewing machines, we didn’t have to sew anything during this step thanks to Attach & Build. Here’s how we inserted the zippers.
- First, we got our zipper and measured how long our pieces of Attach & Build we needed to use to cover the entire length of the fabric portion of the zipper. We made sure to buy a zipper that was the same length as our leg guard. Using a ruler as a straight edge to help us cut a precise line, we cut out strips of Attach & Build and applied them to each side of the zipper — not covering the metal/plastic part that zips.
- Then, we peeled off one of the release papers and stuck the zipper to one edge of the leg guard so that it the zipper would close at the top. We made sure to leave a little bit of room between the zipper pull and the edge of the foam to make sure that our foam wouldn’t get snagged or ripped. To attach the other side, we actually unzipped the zipper into two pieces so that we could apply the other side flat on the table. When we unzip our leg guards now, they lay flat, which makes them easy to pack and travel with. We simply peeled the release paper on the other half of the zipper and once we made sure it was facing the same way as the first half, we pressed it down onto the other side of the foam.
- We also wanted to use Reinforcer on our zippers for extra security. We cut a strip of Reinforcer long enough to cover the entire zipper, plus an extra inch or two of width to cover the foam, peeled the backing, and stuck the strip down on top of the fabric part of the zipper. We repeated the same process on the other side, and our zipper was firmly attached.
Step 3: Strapping Knee Pads with Nylon and Elastic
Strapping our knee pads presented another unique challenge. For armor that only covers the front of the body and/or sits at a joint (like the knee or elbow), we needed our most flexible strapping solution yet. For the knee pads, we decided to use a combination of stretchy elastic and more nylon strapping. Elastic is ideal for strapping armor to parts of your body that need to bend when you move or walk. For Astrid’s knee pads, we knew we needed something tight enough that it would stay in place and not slide down, yet not so tight that it would cut off circulation. However, while Attach & Build is a great adhesive, it does have a tough time sticking to stretchy fibers like elastic. That’s where our nylon came in handy again. Here’s how the combination worked.
- First, we measured around Elyse’s legs to see how much elastic we needed for a good fit, keeping in mind that it’s supposed to stretch, we also added some extra slack on either side where we could attach some nylon pieces. Also, we chose a brown elastic so that it would blend in a little with the brown leggings we were planning to wear under the armor.
- Then, we cut two pieces of nylon, about two inches long, and quickly burned the edges to prevent fraying. We took those pieces and our elastic over to our sewing machine and used brown thread to sew one nylon piece onto each end of the elastic. We left about an inch and a half of the nylon sticking off the end of the elastic on each side. To ensure that everything was fastened tight, we made sure to go back and forth over our stitches several times.
- Then we traced just the nylon pieces that stuck out past the elastic on Attach & Build. We cut out those pieces and used them to peel and stick the nylon ends to the inside of the foam knee pads, creating a stretchy loop that Elyse could pull up and around the back of her knees. This way, only the nylon would be touching the CosBond, and we didn’t have to worry about trying to glue, sew, or otherwise stick the stretchy elastic directly to the foam. The nylon straps make the perfect buffer. We repeated this process to strap the other knee pad.
- Finally, we went over our nylon straps with Reinforcer to ensure that they stayed in place. We cut square patches of Reinforcer large enough to cover both nylon pieces and the foam between them. Then it was as easy as peel and stick.
STEP 4: Using Nylon and Velcro to Hold Up Our Armor Skirt
The final armor piece we needed to strap was Astrid’s armored scale skirt. Due to the design and patterning of our skirt, it didn’t need to stretch or move too much; we simply needed it to sit around Elyse’s hips securely. While our skirt also didn’t need to hold up much weight other than the clay-molded skulls, we wanted to make sure to strap it so that it stayed in place over the brown leggings. For this reason, we decided that the easiest and most effective strapping method would involve Velcro along with some more nylon strapping. This method is great for more stationary armor pieces and can usually hold more weight than other types of straps. Here’s how we strapped our final piece.
- First, we cut out the necessary strips of Velcro for our skirt. We always tend to use more Velcro than we think we need in order to help us feel confident that the straps will hold. We also recommend using 2-3 points of contact when added Velcro, so we cut two strips of about two inches each. Then we separated the two sides of the Velcro, saving the side with the stiffer fibers for later.
- Using the two softer pieces of Velcro, we traced them onto Attach & Build with a marker and cut out our adhesive. We stuck those down to the back of the Velcro strips, peeled the release paper, and stuck them down to the inside of the foam skirt perpendicular to the seam, leaving a little room in between them vertically so that they’d be easy to do up and undo later.
- For the other side of the skirt, we measured out pieces of nylon that were about twice the length of our remaining Velcro strips. We quickly burned the edges of the nylon to prevent fraying. This will give us enough space to attach the nylon to both the Velcro and the foam. We traced and cut out enough Attach & Build to stick the nylon to the inside of the foam, leaving enough nylon sticking past the edge of the foam to hold the Velcro.
- Then we stuck down the remaining Velcro strips to the ends of the nylon using Attach & Build that we traced and cut out to fit. Because the skirt does not overlap at the seam, this side of the Velcro will be attached to the nylon but will not overlap the line where the nylon meets the foam. We measured and tested to make sure these straps would line up perfectly when we wrapped the skirt around and clasped the Velcro pieces together. When the Velcro meets, the edges of the skirt will be flush and not overlap, and the size will be the same as what we patterned.
- Finally, we finished the strapping process with one more application of Reinforcer. We cut patches of Reinforcer that were large enough to cover the two strips of nylon plus 1-2 inches of foam on all sides. We peeled the release paper and stuck down our patch, ensuring our straps would be there to stay.
With all of the straps on (for the second time), our Astrid build was officially finished! It was a long but rewarding process, and we were so pleased with how all of our creative techniques turned out, thanks to CosBond attach and build, reinforcer, and the other materials we used over the course of the project. Thanks for following along with our process or using these tutorials to help you figure out how to approach your own armor build. Keep your eye out for our next cosplay tutorial featuring a brand new character AND brand new techniques, coming very soon!